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Florida’s jobless rate at 5.6%

Florida’s February jobless numbers -- released on Friday, March 27, by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO) -- show the state’s seasonally adjusted rate dropping 0.1 percentage point from the previous month’s rate of 5.7 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate, meanwhile, was 5.5 percent in February. These figures come a little more than a week after the delayed release of the January figures because of an annual nationwide practice that is conducted every March as part of an estimation and historical data revision process known as benchmarking. In Florida, the FDEO performs the process in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The latest released jobless numbers show Jefferson and Madison counties’ jobless numbers somewhat improving. In Jefferson County, the February jobless rate was 5.9, down from 6.2 percent in January. And for Madison County, the rate was 6.7, down from the revised rate of 7.1 in January. Statewide, 548,000 Floridians were jobless in February out of a labor force of 9,702,000 -- not counting persons who had given up the job search, were underemployed or employed part time. Florida’s seasonally adjusted total nonagricultural employment, meanwhile, was 7,990,200 in February -- an increase of 19,700 jobs over the month, according to the FDEO. Seasonally adjusted means that the numbers have been purged of seasonal and other factors that could skew the results. The numbers for the individual counties, however, are not seasonally adjusted. For Madison County, the 6.7 percent translates into 507 jobless persons out of a labor force of 7,614, compared with 537 jobless persons out of a labor force of 7,611 in January, when the rate was 7.1 percent. All told, 7,107 people were employed in Madison County in February, compared with 7,074 in January. In February 2014, the comparable figures were 601 jobless persons out of a labor force of 7,706 and 7,105 employed when the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent. For Jefferson County, the 5.9 percent translates into 329 jobless persons out of a labor force of 5,556, compared with 345 jobless persons out of a labor force of 5,560 in January when the rate was 6.2 percent. All told, 5,227 people were employed in Jefferson County in February, compared with 5,215 in January. In February 2014, the comparable figures were 377 jobless persons out of a workforce of 5,521 and 5,144 employed when the unemployment rate was 6.8 percent. Statewide, the industry gaining the most jobs was trade, transportation and utilities, up 53,900 jobs; followed by professional and business services, up 48,900 jobs; leisure and hospitality, up 46,400 jobs; private education and health services, up 46,200 jobs; construction, up 29,600 jobs; financial activities, up 15,900 jobs; other services, up 14,300 jobs; government, up 9,700 jobs; and manufacturing, up 2,800 jobs. The information sector continued to lose jobs over the year; it was down minus 1,100 jobs. Monroe County continued to have the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.9 percent, followed by St. Johns County at 4.1 percent; Wakulla County at 4.6 percent; Alachua County at 4.7 percent; and Santa Rosa at 4.8 percent. Putnam County continued to have the state’s highest unemployment rate at 8.2 percent, followed by Citrus County at 7.9 percent; Hendry County at 7.8 percent; Sumter County at 7.6 percent; and Taylor County at 7.5 percent.   No county had a double-digit unemployment rate in February, according to the FDEO.

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